Woody P – When In Rome…

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Menu Pizza Menu

It was a Friday night date night and we decided to eat in the city. I remembered hearing about a new restaurant that had opened up called Woody P. It was earlyish – around 6:30pm so we decided to see if we could get a table without a booking. We were able to score some high seats by the window with a view looking into the kitchen area and were told that when a table becomes available they would move us. Perfect!

Woody P is located on Flinders lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD – with neighboring restaurants such as Chin Chin, Coda and Cumulus Inc. Woody P is brought to us by Pierre Semaan and Robert Rae who previously owned Fashion Lounge – the nightclub – which is the very place that Woody P has taken over.

Woody P has such an interesting space which has been designed by Eades and Bergman (who have also designed Kong and The Meatball and Wine Bar). As you are about to enter the restaurant – you know you are at the right place when you see a neon blue W sign out the front – and if you look down – the WOODY P name made out of small tiles.
The venue spans over two floors complete with a combination of exposed brick walls, wooden floors, blond wood and marble – what a combination! The restaurant is artfully sectioned off into distinct areas – separated by exposed brick beams on one side and indoor suspended greenery (planter boxes) on the other side. The front section is for casual walk-ins, with a semi private area just behind it, followed by a marble bar with mosaic tiles for cocktails and towards the back overlooking the kitchen – high table seating. I love the brightly lit blue neon sign “When in Rome” which works beautifully against the exposed brick wall which catches your eye as you walk towards the bar. There is also a terrace for outdoor seating to dine al fresco once the sun comes out in Melbourne!

The menu has both Italian and Mediterranean influences and has been created by head chef Clinton Camilleri (Eleonore’s, The Lake House, The Royal George Hotel). The menu pretty much has something for everyone – from White Anchovy, Caramelised Onion, Puff Pastry starters to 48-hour Slow Cooked Beef Rib, Roast Onion, Gremolata to a selection of Pizzas and Pastas. The menu is split into 8 sections – Piccolo (Entrees), Salumi, Pizza, Grande (Mains), Pasta, Sides, Formaggi and Dolce (Dessert). You can select the “Time to Feast” menu for $55 per person for groups of four or more.
The Pizza menu can either be Eat In or Take-Away and to view the list available to choose from you simple flip over the menu given to you. There are 7 pizzas to select from including Margherita, San Daniele, Gamberi, Funghi, Patatina, Zucca and Porchetta.

N and I were seated at the high tables and were given the menus in case we wanted to have some snacks whilst we waited for our table. We were also asked if we wanted sparkling water which we said yes to. The sparkling water was from Bolle Stille and was better than any of the sparkling waters I have tasted around. Before deciding on what snacks/entrees we wanted we decided to order a drink. I asked what mocktails they had available and the friendly waitress informed me that there were two options – I ended up going with the Peaches & Cream. I have never come across a place that does a Peach mocktail so I was very interested to see what this was all about. The mocktail came out and just like the drink had peachy tones completed with a wedge of lemon – and tasted spectacular – exactly as you would imagine peaches and cream to taste like – slightly sour with a great creamy after taste! Delicious and definitely highly recommended!

It was time to decide what food to eat – we ordered the Panisse Chips, Truffle, Taleggio, Cauliflower to start while we thought about what we wanted for our mains. I had never heard of Panisse before so was intrigued to see what it was like – essentially it is reminiscent of polenta and comes served in fingers which resemble fries. The exterior was crumbed perfection with the inside reminding me of custard – I would have liked a bit more seasoning to the flavour such as salt and pepper but overall it was an interesting dish.

For mains I decided to go with the Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi, Tomato Sugo, Ricotta Salata and N went with Chargrilled Grass-Fed T-Bone (500gm), Salsa Verde. We also decided to get the Broccolini, Grilled Onion, Honey Mustard as a side – we absolutely love Broccolini and were interested to try the honey mustard flavouring.

My Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi, Tomato Sugo, Ricotta Salata was a beautifully presented dish – the Tomato Sugo oozed brightness at the base of the dish where the Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi were placed upon and finished with Ricotta Salata and Basil leaves. Gnudi is essentially a type of round gnocchi and Woody Ps take on it was smashingly delicious. The Gnudi balls were generous in size and quite dense in texture with the taste perfect. The Tomato Sugo was rich and complemented the ricotta and spinach fantastically. Overall a good tasting dish.
N’s T Bone was styled simply – the steak pieces cut up into bite sized pieces with the salsa verde dressed on top and finished with half a lemon. N thoroughly enjoyed his dish so much so that he didn’t even realise he was eating 500grams of meat!
The Broccolini was such a simple dish with bursting flavours that I loved. The Honey Mustard combined with the grilled onions meshed really well with the Brocollini. I think we will definitely be trying to replicate this dish at home!

As you all know I cannot leave a place without sampling the dessert menu. It was a tough choice to make but in the end I went with the Chocolate & Giandujua Budino, Crème Fraiche, Sour Cherry Ice Cream – and boy am I glad I did. I was raving about this dessert weeks later! This dessert isn’t just for all Chocolate lovers – but for anyone! Giandujua for those of you who don’t know is a sweet chocolate hazelnut spread and a Giandujua Budino is an Italian pudding made with this spread. This was served with quenelles of chocolate ganache as well as Sour Cherry Ice Cream. The combination of the rich chocolatey goodness combined with the sourness of the ice cream was brilliant. I could actually eat a bowl full of Sour Cherry Ice Cream on its own as well – it was simply divine!

On a different occasion (when I went to Woody P for lunch) – I ordered the Roast Potato, Truffle & Persian Fetta Tortellini, Cauliflower, Cavolo Nero. This would have to be my favourite dish from Woody P so far (aside from the delicious Chocolate dessert of course). The dish is immaculately presented – with the cauliflower puree at the base of the dish with the three tortellini placed in a triangle on top – finished with sultanas and Cavolo Nero. It was almost too pretty to eat…almost! From the first bite I was in Tortellini heaven – the combination of potato, fetta and perfectly made pasta was delicious – there was the right amount of seasoning and combined with the smooth creamy cauliflower puree. I am not usually a sultana fan but it really worked in this dish and added a sweetness to the dish which complemented all the other flavours. My only gripe would be that it too small – I would have like maybe 1 or 2 more tortellini – but I guess that’s only because the dish was DELICIOUS! On the same occasion C ordered the Gamberi Pizza – Tiger Prawns, San Marzano Tomato, Chilli, Garlic, Salsa Verde. I was lucky enough to sample a piece and it was quite good as well! When the pizza came out it came served with a little dish that had extra salt, herbs and chilli which I thought was a great idea as usually I have to ask for extra chilli on the side. The base of the pizza was thin, fresh and crispy on the edges with the ingredients all working well together.

Woody P is up there with one of my favourite restaurants of 2015 and one that I recommend to people when they ask me for a place to eat in the city! Service is brilliantly friendly and the vibe is welcoming and homely – it is a great place for Friday night drinks or just to have a quiet date night. The music is great and really allows you to let your hair down!
Also something to note the Woody P team are still deciding what their downstairs basement space will be transformed into. So stay tuned for something like a relaxed cocktail and wine / cheese bar come next summer.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to https://thegrazingpanda.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/bd409-woody-pmenujune2015.pdf or refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Vibrant, Relaxed and Welcoming. Great for Friday Night drinks or Date Night. Alternatively it is also a great place to grab lunch during the week.
Standout Dish: Roast Potato, Truffle & Persian Fetta Tortellini, Cauliflower, Cavolo Nero
Service: Friendly, Attentive and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via this link
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.woodyp.com.au/
121 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 5000

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12:00pm to 12:00am

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/woodypmelb

Instagram: woodypmelb

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The Grain Store – European Dinner Flair

panda 4 rating

Menu:
The Grain Store Menu for the night

I have been a HUGE fan of The Grain Store ever since its inception (check out my previous blog here for them – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/the-grain-store-honest-cooking/ )– initially starting off with trying their breakfast menu (a few times!) and then branching out to try their lunch menu. I loved all of their food, ingredients and plating up of dishes. So naturally I was excited when I received an invite from Zilla & Brook,  to try out their latest dinner offering at an intimate bloggers’ dinner.

On arrival we were all greeted and asked to select from a choice of drinks. I opted for Hepburn Mineral Springs Organic Lemonade which was refreshing and perfect after walking from Southgate to the venue.

As the rest of the bloggers started to arrive, we received small starters which were elegantly presented in clear egg shaped glass cups. You could see the distinction of two layers through the clear glass – a savoury mushroom jelly topped with a layer of pumpkin foam and finished with a crisp triangle of chickpea biscuit. The combination was delicious – the vibrant mushroom flavour paired with the sweetness of the pumpkin. The silky jelly combined with the smooth foam was a texture party for your senses.

Once we had all sampled the starter we were led into an intimate private dining room which had been set up especially for us. It was a cosy group of about 15 of us – which was the perfect size. When we were all seated, head chef Ingo Meissner came out to say hello and gave us some information about the Grain Store – its background, philosophy and ideologies. Meissner himself is from Europe and hence there are many Mediterranean and French influences throughout the menu – that utilise both traditional and new techniques.
The Grain Store sources local produce – for example the Burrata is from Carlton, the duck is from Daylesford. But their main point of difference is that they have their very own Rooftop Garden where they grow seasonal produce – as well as the pretty flowers, petals for that little bit of jazz when plating up – that ends up on your plate. What a great idea!

The night started off with Entrees which was a selection of three small dishes – all plated up on the one plate which I thought was a great idea to showcase a variety of their dishes succinctly. These dishes included:
Green asparagus, burrata, char-grilled orange, black barley, hazelnut, rosemary sablé
Poached veal fillet, avocado, tuna mayonnaise, charred shallots, white anchovies, caper berries
Pan seared scallops, smoked eggplant, butternut boudin noir sandwich, ricotta lemon curd, crisp leeks
As I couldn’t have the Poached Veal Fillet – I was substituted with a salad consisting of a variety of ingredients.

The plating up of this dish was done really well – with the standout definitely being the bright purple cauliflower; everyone was wondering what taste they would have when they took their first bit into it. The cauliflower had been beetroot cured and therefore had a bit of tang to it – really good! Each of the components worked well together and I especially loved the black barley – which not only added texture but a great earthy tone to the dish. I loved the addition of orange to this dish to add an element of sweet and citrus.

The scallop component was definite highlight amongst the other dishes on this Entrée plate – the scallop had been seared to perfection and flavoured well. The butternut boudin noir sandwich was a welcome component adding a sweet touch to combine with the ricotta and lemon curd. I enjoyed the finish of the crisp leek – adding depth to the dish.

Next up was the mains – we were served alternative dishes between a Fish dish and a Duck dish – Free range Aylesbury duck breast, fennel slaw, Nicola potato, crème fraiche, caramelised carrot and pine nuts. There was a resounding “delicious” for the guests in the room that had this dish – with the duck being succulently cooked and the flavours of the fennel furthur enhancing the duck flavour. The Nicola potato component that it came served was glistening and looked divine!

I had the Lakes Entrance Dory fillets, new season asparagus, soft herb spätzle, charred corn salsa. This dish was plated up simply, yet it was a colourful visual spectacle. The star attraction was the fish which front and centre and sat on a green bed of soft herb spätzle (I asked Ingo later how it was made and he told me that it was made much like that of pasta – with flour and eggs, with the addition of herbs to give it that vibrant green colour), and surrounded by the asparagus and the charred corn salsa. Each component added flavour and texture to the dish. The Dory fillets were lightly battered on the outside and cooked well – resulting in soft white kernels of delicious fish on the inside. I loved the look, feel and taste of the spätzle – it was the first time I was eating this and I was highly intrigued – it is the type of dish that you keep going back for more as it is easy to eat and tastes great. The charred corn salsa had the perfect level of smokiness that worked well with the simple flavours of the fish. I would definitely recommend this dish!

Whilst we were eating our mains we were also given polenta chips topped with herbs and salt – which came out stacked like a jenga game. They were really tasty as well – crispy on the outside with a dense softness on the inside. A really great side dish addition to enhance your food experience.

It had been a great night of conversation and simply designed tasty food so far but my favourite part of any meal was still to come. For dessert we lucky enough to be served a selection of desserts which included – Black forest gateau, chocolate ganache, cherries, vanilla kirsch panna cotta, coca nibs together with a Grain Store Soufflé (Strawberry with Goats Cheese sorbet and fresh strawberries).
It was a tough choice of deciding where to begin on this sweet delight. I started with the black forest gateau – dense, rich and with added flavour from the berry centre. The chocolate ganache was the bomb – smooth, silky and full of chocolate goodness – you could seriously eat bucket loads of this ganache. The vanilla panna cotta came in a pyramid bite size piece – it was creamy and yet another delicious component.
The Grain Store Soufflé was delightful – light, soft, melt in your mouth and filled with a strawberry flavour. A truly great dish! I wasn’t a huge fan of the goats cheese sorbet that was its accompaniment and felt soufflé on its own was all that was needed.

The night was a fantastic event to meet new people and exchange stories, compare notes – all in the name of food – and more! The Grain Store should be a place that should be added to your list of restaurants that you must try in Melbourne – be if for breakfast, lunch or dinner. All dishes that I have tried here are delicious and well worth the effort.

Disclaimer: Grazing Panda was invited to dine at The Grain Store as a guest by Zilla & Brook, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Elegant and Inviting
Standout Dish:
Service: Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.grainstore.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.grainstore.com.au/
517 Flinders Lane
Tel No: 9972 6993

Opening Hours:
Breakfast & Lunch
Monday to Friday: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Dinner
Wednesday to Saturday: 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm

The Grain Store on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grainstore517
Instagram: GrainStore517
Twitter:@GrainStore517

The Grain Store – Honest Cooking!

This gallery contains 9 photos.

It had been a while since a couple of the girls from work had caught up for lunch and I picked The Grain Store as the venue. I had heard about the place and heard about the healthy and fresh … Continue reading

Cornershop – Yarraville Local is Fantastic


image_3 image_4
Latte and Baked Eggs with Eggplant Kasundi Relish, Fetta and Parsley
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Smashed Avocado with Spring Onion, Coriander, Fetta and Chilli  on Sourdough

I have heard of the Cornershop from a various number of people and finally got a chance to try it out. I have driven past it many times when I have been in the area, and it seems to be quite a popular spot for the locals. It is constantly busy and bustling. The cafe is spacious and has a vibrant and fun atmosphere. There is a vintage feel with wooden tables are recycled wooden benches to match and wiry light shades and decor. There is a communal table at the front which has wild flowers as a centrepiece, as well as a courtyard out the back for those lovely Melbourne sunny days.

I arrived a bit before G so I got us a table and ordered myself a coffee. The menu has quite a variety – from ricotta hotcakes to baked eggs and even a side of black pudding. I must admit I did have a tough time deciding what to order but I settled on the Baked Eggs with Eggplant Kasundi Relish, Fetta and Parsley. When G arrived she ordered her coffee and then settled on Smashed Avocado with Spring Onion, Coriander, Fetta and Chilli  on Sourdough. The food did take a bit of time to arrive (about 20-30mins), but the wait wasn’t too bad. What was bad was when the food had arrived, G still hadn’t gotten her coffee. We asked the waitress and were told hurriedly that there was a shortage of cups and that it would come soon. I thought that was somewhat rude. The coffee did finally arrive about 45 mins after the order.

The food was quite delicious. I am not a huge fan of eggplant generally, but with the baked eggs the eggplant kasundi relish was spectacular. It had a little bit of tang and had the right amount of seasoning, and the eggplant itself was cooked to the perfect softness. Mixed together with the Fetta and Parsley it was a great combination. Definitely try it out if you are cant decide what you want. G was loving her dish and couldn’t believe she finished the whole dish (it was quite large!). The smashed avocado was mixed together with the spring onion, fetta for a flavoursome result and the added chilli gave that extra little kick. There was a lot of rocket on top of the avocado I must say – but if rocket is your thing you will love it.

I can see why the Cornershop is considered a local favourite and is busy most times. Just one improvement would have to be service. I am also very interested to see what their Dinner menu is like – it just might be on my next visit to Yarraville!=)

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Menu – refer below for Breakfast and Lunch Menu

Cornershop Menu

Cornershop Menu

Fullness: 90%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky and Lively – great place to spend hours just catching up with friends or reading a book
Standout Dish: Baked Eggs!
Service: Can be improved..a tad bit slow and the staff seem consistently busy. The staff are quite friendly though.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
9 Ballarat Street, Yarraville
Tel No: 9689 0052

Opening Hours:
Sunday & Monday: 8am – 5pm
Tuesday to Friday: 8am – 9:30pm

The Cornershop on Urbanspoon

Albert Street Food & Wine – Consistently Fantastic!

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Details for Pictures in Slideshow:
Selection of Cured meats
Oysters
Albert St Steak Tartare
Baccala, “Green Goddess”, Grilled Bread
Salmon Tartare with Avocado
Gnocchi with Carrots, Braised Beef
Steak with Beetroot and Cream
Pearl Barley Risotto, Grilled Leek, Smoked Pancetta, Parmesan
Spaghettini, Prawns, Charred Corn, Black Garlic, Green Chilli
Meyer Lemon Tart
Phillipa’s Strawberries with Meringue and Balsamic Ice Cream
White Chocolate and Almond Tart with Strawberry Sorbet
Pizza – Mushroom, Rosemary, Gorgonzola
Olives & Bocconcini, Pesto Genovese, Ciabatta
Chicken and Leek Pie with a Side Salad
Salmon with Potatoes
Spring chicken cassoulet
Chicken with Potatoes, Apple
Sides: Broccolini and Quinoa with Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Yoghurt
Phillipa’s Chocolate Bullet

Albert St Food and Wine is a former bank building that has been renovated into a stylish, classy yet relaxed restaurant. It also houses a bottle shop and produce store – where you can buy freshly baked varieties of bread. It is described by its creators – Executive Chef – Phillipa Sibley(she also has a Phillipa’s in the City which sells varities of breads and pastries), and owners Stuart Brookshaw and Ruth Giffney as an “all-day eatery,wine bar and store.”

The restaurant is set up with the bar located in the centre of the restaurant with seating on either side. Seating compromises of table seating as well as high table seating for a more casual laid back feel. Although I must say the high table seating can get a bit uncomfortable over a long period of time.

The food at Albert St Food and Wine is consistently great. The dishes are flavour-packed and amazing. I was impressed on my first visit there and the second time around the menu had changed but yet the food and flavours were different but of the same high quality and taste. On my first visit I had the Spaghettini (with a delicious mix of Prawns, Charred Corn, Black Garlic, Green Chilli) as my main – what made this dish unique was the charred corn – I have never had this in a regular spaghettini dish and I think it really made this dish. A definite standout dish and a must try!

The Salmon Tartare with Avocado as an entrée was delicious and is quite heavy to eat on your own so I suggest you share this entrée as you should leave room for mains and dessert. The sides of Broccolini and Quinoa were another highlight. The flavours were simple yet tasty and that’s something great about Albert Street Food & Wine. It was after eating the Broccolini here that we started to cook Broccolini as a side at home to eat with most meals.

Phillipa Sibley is known for her desserts so the expectation of these being spectacular is rife. Phillipa’s Chocolate Bullet is nothing short of amazing, and her sorbets are like silk. The combination of the dark chocolate and the sweet strawberry sorbet works great together. The Strawberries with Meringue and Balsamic Ice Cream is a bit underwhelming and is nothing too fantastic to rave about, but the Meyer Lemon Tart definitely has the right amount of tanginess and oozes yum!

I can go on and on about the food and the place as well the service being exceptional, but really you should get yourself down there and try out the food and experience for yourself. It is my first 5 Panda Rating for a restaurant!

Rating :
 5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la carte Menu – can be found at http://www.albertst.com.au/menus/AlbertStFood&WineMenu.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy and stylish yet comfortable
Standout Dish: Spaghettini, Prawns, Charred Corn, Black Garlic, Green Chilli, Salmon Tartare and Avocado, DESSERTS
Service: Fantastic and Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.albertst.com.au/
Corner of Albert St & 382 Sydney Rd
Brunswick
Tel No: 8354 6600

Opening Hours:

Store open
Tuesday to Friday: 10am to 11pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am to 11pm

Restaurant & Bar Open
Tuesday to Friday – Lunch & Dinner: 12pm to late

Saturday & Sunday
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner: 8am to late

Albert Street Food and Wine on Urbanspoon